An Artistic Life

29 09 2015

I’m inspired by reading Twyla Tharps blog to write in mine!

For ages I had been trying to get my work In Flagrante off shore then I realised that I had a super fulfilling artistic life here in NZ and that was more important.

I’m loving teaching my ballet classes (beginners adult ballet and intermediate level) to mainly women who are all fantastic interesting and keen.

Beginners ballet class at Tapac

Beginners ballet class at Tapac

I’m loving re creating 15 mins of my Giselle Act 2 for Tempo Dance Festival. We are part of a shared programme…small/no budget so rehearsing at Auckland Academy of Dance on Sundays. Nancy and Penny are giving us the space – brilliant. The young dancers are working well. i had thought we might do 25 mins and we were going well but the male dancers are few and far between in Auckland so cutting back made sense. I’m still really liking what I made 20 years ago…hopefully it will strike a chord and we will be motivated to try to re-create the whole hour long work next year?

Cast of 20 years ago featuring Kilda Northcott

Cast of 20 years ago featuring Kilda Northcott

And we are presenting In Flagrante again at Q’s Vault. The May season was fantastic so now a November season is planned. We are already selling tickets which is a good sign!For Web ends with a bang image

And an important post script is that I am now a grandmother…my darling daughter Morgan Le Fay Naomi Jane gave birth to Luna Le Fay Nellie Reilly 5 weeks ago. All well!

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Tempo 2012 Festival Launch

2 08 2012
Went to the Tempo Festival programme launch last nite – was fun to be there, had no qualms at all about not being director – six years was a good length of time to be in the overview role!!
Nice prog, great hero pic (which I art directed!!). www.tempo.co.nz.
Brooke, the ballet dancer is absolutely amazing – I predict she is another Sylvie Guillem (famous French ballerina) if she can survive the mental and physical challenges!!




‘Contemporary’ Dance, my take on it.

2 04 2009

In my position as Artistic director of Tempo Dance Festival i have been thinking about this a lot in relation to programming for the 09 festival. In my view contemporary dance isn’t a technique, its an attitude – a conceptual approach to making dance.

Any dance vocabulary can be used or applied, any source of movement is completely valid, but its the thought behind the work that makes it contemporary. A celebration and showing of virtuosity of a form is great and good but its not contemporary. Its only contemporary when that form is used as a language to express something beyond the complexity / cleverness of the steps, beyond the tradition, beyond the beauty or look of the dance.

Its contemporary if there are layers of meaning, if we can see ‘a mind at work’.

Traditional forms often have layers of meaning to the viewers familiar with the language and traditions of that form, but its contemporary if the dance can be interpreted from a contemporary viewpoint, a global view to do with being human today, not of a particular culture.

This definition of ‘contemporary’ dance is very broad and deliberately so. I think its futile to discuss a particular way of moving as THE contemporary dance –  any dance language, from Maori to Indian dance is contemporary if the approach to the actual piece / work is conceptual in some way.

I’m finding it very interesting to be a Director of a dance festival in NZ because its about me responding to what is the situation here. It ‘s all very well to have grand ideas and visions about what to present but the reality is with a small budget and minimal resources I have to think laterally.

I’m actually very excited about the potential of this festival to lead the way in developing and encouraging the contemporary realisation of the various styles and forms. I’m very keen to encourage a contemporary approach by everyone in thinking about what their form can do and say in a ‘contemporary’ sense.

So from the viewers point of view what does contemporary mean?Contemporary doesn’t mean obscure. I think its the choreographers responsibility to make work which is clearly thought through. If the audience sits there feeling dumb, its the choreographers fault, not the audiece. Choreography is very hard to get right. Its a non verbal performing art but unlike music, uses the human body as the tool of expression- therefore the general public expect there to be  a story behind every dance. This need not be so – in fact dance aint the best platform to tell stories, but volumes can be expressed or said with a simple movement. Simplicity is a key. Simplicity in the concept I mean. A concept with depth but a clear idea is the best. Convoluted ideas need words.

Dance and movement ideas are best if they’re simple – then there’s room for complex approaches to that idea. Complexity in movement, use of time and space etc.

The skill to ‘read’ a contemporary dance should be / can be easily developed if the viewer relaxes and lets their intuition and skills of reading body language (which are instilled in us from the moment of birth) come to the fore. Thats why i think women are the largest group attending dance performances as they are often more confident about reading dance than men. Females often have a more highly developed sense of intuition.





Tempo 08 and 09

25 03 2009

Tempo 08 was my 3rd festival. The artistic developments i added in 08 were new and quite particular to the situation i find myself in with this festival. The reality is i cant possibly buy anything in from anywhere – we just dont have the budget. But what i have been doing is artistically and creatively very satisfying. Curating programmes of local work. Combining short work ( 3-15 min duration)to make hour long programmes, that sit back to back at Tapac. This was a big development. We even got money from Creative NZ (NZ govt) to give seed money to some choreographers – as up till now we were only able to just share the income with the groups so this was a way of recognising the upfront costs there always are in making and presenting work. Fresh Cuts and Prime Cuts were seeded and i also conceived of and curated Tertiary Colours, Short Dance Films, Kids Show and Cheek to Cheek. These were all new programmes and all required a huge amount of extra time and thought – but in the end it was very pleasing as the programmes were entertaining (good for audience development) but had substance.

The other developments last year that added depth and substance to the festival were the Honouring a Dancer event, the Artists talks, the parade. Freedom was addedwith the Open Floor event. Anyone can have a go! Bruce Hopkins did a great job as MC for the inaugural performance and hopefully this year we’ll have more offerings and a wilder night.

So this year tempo 09 will continue with all the programmes i’ve mentioned – and we’re just about to go into seeing whats on offer at a ‘show and tell’ weekend which wll be very intense. i’ve also recently had the opportunity check out lots of performances at the Ak fringe festival, the Mau festival out west and am going to Dunedin next week to see work in the dunedin fringe fest also.

We’re doing the parade again – but this time we’ll be going down queen st as aotea square is closed so we’ll go to behind Britomart instead for the dancing in the square.

whew – its all go.





A Culturally Diverse Evening

19 04 2008

I went to the Chinese Spectacular at the ASB theatre last night. I had fab seats in the front row of the circle and I was honoured to be asked.

 In the speeches beforehand they said how the Chinese Government disapproved of their show so that interested me greatly as I was afraid it was going to be just some superficial political reflection of a bland perfect Chinese world. Well – that’s what it was – although from another side of the political coin – the Falun Gong philosophy.

I felt i should go to see more Chinese ethnic dance, to be more educated in this form, as I am developing the Tempo World Dance showcase content now and wanted to see what this was offering.

 The only unique Chinese movement i perceived was the cute little walk/ run the women do…..heels first, on slightly bent knees, like they’re on wheels, otherwise it was very ballet and gymnastic – and if gymnastics are a Chinese form – well and good – but I dont think it works to just throw in a flip for the sake of it – it should contribute to whats being ‘said’.

The costumes were gorgeous in their pastel and flurescent colours though the lighting was terribly bland , the projections were scenic imagery of a fantasy land and the performance style was all very ‘frontal’ and ‘heroic’ .

Perhaps all ethnic forms have a real naivety in their understanding of theatricality. From Hiphop to Maori, whenever i’ve seen ethnic forms taken out of context and put on the theatre stage – it hardly ever works. Perhaps because the performers, the participants, know their form on just a folk dance level. Good and bad concepts are important and thats fair enough but the complexity of understanding of what works when its presented on a proscenium arch stage – and is being watched by an audience from a darkened theatre who have probably paid for their tickets – is another situation altogether and these forms badly need a dramaturg or sophisticated choreographer who has a wider vision than just the steps.

After the show I carried on my night of cultural diversity with a visit to a Salsa studio. Having studied salsa a bit now I can begin to see the different styles. But as Tempo Director and wanting some more Salsa in Tempo shows I’m beginning to get embroiled in salsa politics aaagh!!

I understand a little better now the different styles of salsa – the Cuban as opposed to the LA style. I’ve been taught the Cuban style. Had fun dancing at the Latinrhythm studios – interesting to see all the Uni students up there having a good time. Nice studio with a good wooden floor – always important to me – and worked up a good sweat.

Finally my night ended with a pause at a Middle Eastern cafe on Queen St for a Falafel, then onto the Basement Bar to catch up with my daughter (who is a bar manager there) only to find myself at a hiphop music and dance event – mainly the music, so with the American form of Hiphop pounding my eardrums I slipped away quietly home to watch the Arts Channel and a great doc about the Saturday Night Live show’s director and the music of Paul Simon.

What a night!